There is nowhere like the Braes of Glenlivet. The river Livet runs down the Ladder Hills into the valley. Rolling hills of purple heather and tumble-down crofts provide a very memorable days walking and wildlife spotting.
Parking the car at Allanreid we start our gentle climb up the valley with the Bochel (the shepherd hill) behind and Carn na Bruar (hill of the waters divides) ahead. The area is on the Crown Estate Scotland and is way marked as part of a series of low level walks. The track starts by going through fields of hardy sheep. Crossing a bridge, we soon rise onto the grouse moor and hear the mournful cry of Curlew.
It takes about an hour to walk up to the Suie Bothy. The path follows the side of the river Livet as it winds its way down the valley. The hills are perfect breading habitats for Lapwing, Curlew and Oyster catcher which are seen and heard all the time during our outing.
The Braes was once a popular whisky smuggling route and many illicit stills where located in the hidden glens and hills. As you walk you can imagine how it would have been very hard to police this rough countryside and the excisemen would have had to be very cunning to catch anyone.
A herd of deer lower on the hillside stop there grazing then run for the hill tops and of into the distance. We cross the bridge at the Kymah Burn, and stop at the Suie Bothy for lunch. I have brought a selection of local meats (Rannoch Scottish smoked venison, Inverawe Smoked Argyll Ham & Salar Oak Roasted Flaky Salmon) This is a perfect lunch stop, complete with a bench for two facing down Glenlivet. We stopped to enjoy the solitude in warm sunshine, entertained by wheeling lapwings, their sharp cries loud over the sound of the burn.
After our short lunchbreak we turned and head back out of the valley. We can see the rain coming in as we walk down stream. A rainbow appears to our left and soon we are pulling out our waterproof jackets. The rain passes as quickly as it came. Jackets are packed away with this being the first of a frequent ritual during the walk back to the car as we enjoy the changeable Scottish weather.
Back at the car we look at our list of sightings during our three hours. Lapwing, Oystercatcher, Curlew, Buzzard, Kestral, Stonechat, Meadow Pipet, Wheatear, Heron, Red Grouse, Dunnock, Dipper, Sand Martin, Swallow, Common Gull, Carrion Crow, Jackdaw, Rook, Raven, Blue Tit, Coal Tit, Chiffchaff, Chaffinch and Red Deer.
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